Handmade shelters help house Salmon Arm’s large feral feline population

Milania, Georgia and Olivia Kwiatkowski with rescue kittens Boo, Jack, Shadow and Pumpkin. (Contributed)
Cat shelters can be made from modified styrofoam boxes and retired drink coolers. (Contributed)
Drink cooler cat shelters made by the Shuswap Paws Rescue Society. (Contributed)
Cat shelters can also be made from plastic storage totes. (Contributed)
Cat shelters made from plastic storage totes and styrofoam boxes provided by a pharmacy in Scotch Creek. (Contributed)
Seamus Kellough plays with a group of kittens taken in by the Shuswap Paws Rescue Society. (Contributed)
Christine Ellis holds her new feral foster kitten for the first time. The kitten, saved from the Malakwa area, was named Veradero. (Contributed)

A rescue society has been hard at work providing shelter for what the organization’s owner is calling a huge feral and stray cat problem in the Shuswap.

Barbara Gosselin and her husband Dennis are the owners of Shuswap Paws Rescue Society, a group dedicated to raising money to help spay and neuter cats in the region. For several years the group and its 106 volunteers have been making homemade insulated cat crates to keep wild cats warm. The shelters were especially valuable during the recent cold snaps experienced throughout the region.

Read more: Cat rescue picked to receive ‘Good Fuel Day’ funds

Read more: Shuswap Paws wants to Jam the Ram with food and supplies for cats

Over the past few months, the society has created more than 30 crates out of old coolers or styrofoam boxes sourced from a pharmacy in Scotch Creek. The Gosselins and their volunteers cut a circular hole in the boxes, put tape around the rough edges and line them with straw. For those who want to make their own cat shelters Barbara stresses only straw should be used as hay or blankets can absorb moisture, making the shelters colder.

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Although a significant amount of personal finances have been used to create the shelters, Gosselin says they are sold by donation only – even giving them away in exchange for donations to use in future fundraisers.

The organization spayed, neutered and adopted out more than 300 cats in 2018 and approximately 500 more in 2019. Gosselin says the overpopulation of wild cats is a result of larger rescue organizations not having the resources to care for them so they don’t take in any feral cats in at all.

Read more: Shuswap Paws fundraise to help vulnerable kittens

Read more: Group builds shelters for Vernon’s stray cats

“There is such a huge feral cat population and barn cat population, and the prices in the Shuswap are extremely high compared to anywhere else for spay and neuter,” Gosselin said. “Most of the volunteers that come on are shocked at the sheer number of calls I get every day and how many colonies are out there.”

Shuswap Paws Rescue Society is accepting donations of coolers, styrofoam boxes and straw. The society also has an Amazon wish list where people can purchase items needed by the society. Monetary donations can also be made via e-transfer to https://www.paypal.me/shuswappaws.


@CameronJHT
Cameron.thomson@saobserver.net

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